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Boulders drop three of four at Trois-Rivieres

Rockland hit the road to begin the second half of the Can-Am regular season as they dropped three of four against Trois-Riveres.

Looking to build off a win before the All-Star break last week, the Rockland Boulders started the second half of the Can-Am League regular season with a seven-game road trip to Canada. The task at hand would not be easy with second baseman Ryne Birk missing the four-game set against Trois-Rivieres with a leg injury sustained in the All-Star Game on Wednesday night.

Facing the second place Aigles (30-20) on Thursday night at Stade Stereo+, Mother Nature had different plans as rain forced the series opener to be suspended with the teams having to play a pair of games on Friday.

The Aigles managed to take the suspended game 4-1, but Rockland answered back in the night contest 5-2 as JD Busfield (4-1) earned his fourth win of the season tossing six innings while allowing two runs and striking out seven. Adam Ehrlich paced the offense, driving in two runs. Robbie Gordon finished up registering his eighth save.

Over the course of the next two days, Trois Rivieres dominated the series, outscoring the Boulders 21-8. Rockland struggled with runners scoring in position leaving 17 runners on base. The injury bug continued to plague Rockland with starting pitcher Zach Jemiola departing after two innings in the series finale on Sunday.

Some bright spots offensively included All-Star infielder John Brontsema going 6-for-16 with an RBI and two runs scored. Shortstop Senoo Katsuya went 5-for-16 with two ‘RBI’s while first baseman Matt Oberste went 6-for-15 with one RBI and two runs scored. Blake Grant-Parks finished with seven hits with four ‘RBI’s and two runs scored.

Manager Kevin Baez on the series: “Trois-Rivieres is playing well right now. They got a good team and pitching. We just made mistakes and didn’t pitch well and that combination is not good. We hit the ball okay, had opportunities. We had a couple of situations where we ran ourselves out of an inning.”

“When Blake has played, he has been outstanding. He needs to get more at-bats whether behind the plate, at DH, or in the outfield. We have to get to the point where the guys that are producing are going to play and get more opportunities than others.”

“‘We’re struggling as a team overall and not doing the three things whether ‘it’s pitching, hitting or defense and doing one out of three and we need to do at least two out of three. It’s frustrating right now. Birk has played really well this year. He’s an All-Star and it’s frustrating for him and us.”

The Boulders are in fifth place at 22-29. They currently sit in fifth place 11½ games out of first place and trail the fourth-place Ottawa Champions (24-27) by two games. Rockland concludes their road trip taking on Ottawa in a three-game set at RCGT Park. The Champions are coming off a wild 18-15 win on Sunday at Sussex County.

This season the Boulders have taken three out of five games. Once Rockland returns to Palisades Credit Union Park on Friday, they will kick off an 11-game homestand.

“Ottawa is playing well right now, right next to us in the standings,” said Baez. “We have all of July and August but need to start playing better and make up some ground. Today is a great day for that opportunity. (Reinaldo) Lopez going on the mound today, yesterday with Zach coming out we taxed our bullpen, so we are hoping he goes six innings today.”

“We have to start playing better at home and we’re not. We have to figure things out and make adjustments. Do a better job of winning games. There are no moral victories here. I have to do a better job and the team as well. We’re trying to stay positive every day and encourage the guys.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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